FOCUS ON: Lexus
Hybrid brand Lexus is now moving towards full electrification
Lexus has been the premium brand most renowned for so-called ‘self-charging’ hybrids, as has also been the case with its parent brand, Toyota, in the mainstream arena.
According to the brand, more than two million Lexus hybrids have been sold since 2005, when the RX400h became the world’s first luxury hybrid, and the manufacturer now has a total of nine hybrid or battery electric vehicles in its portfolio, sold in more than 90 countries.
But the Japanese prestige brand is shifting in line with the industry’s moves to electrification, and has recently launched its first full electric car (see Lexus UX300e Star Car, right), as part of a desire to introduce at least 10 new full electric, plug-in hybrid or regular hybrid models by 2025. By that point, the company says it will have electric versions of each of its models, with plug-in cars at that time outnumbering petrol-engined vehicles.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
WHAT IS IT?
The UX is the first fully electric car from Lexus or its parent company, automotive giant Toyota, and is the smallest of the brand’s SUV range. It joined the line-up in March.
HOW QUICK IS IT?
The 150kW electric motor puts out the equivalent of 201hp. It’s certainly powerful enough to be something of a handful delivering the levels of power through the front wheels on damp roads.
WHATS THE RANGE?
Lexus is almost too honest in not scraping another mile or few out of the range to make the crucial 200-mile figure. The official number is 196 miles on a full charge from the 54kWh battery.
IS IT TAX EFFICIENT?
Very. The 1% company car Benefit-in-Kind tax band doubles to 2% for the next two years from next April, but that will still only mean a bill of less that £29 per month for a 40% taxpayer.
ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
In a bit of a change for an EV, the boot space is actually 47 litres larger than the ‘self-charging’ hybrid UX can offer, thanks to the better packaging of the car’s electric-only powertrain.
Lexus has been at the forefront of hybrid premium vehicles over the best part of two decades now, and the only car in its seven-strong line-up not exclusively sold with a petrol-hybrid powertrain is the 464hp LC coupe and convertible. Its UX, NX and RX SUVs, and ES and LS saloons plus the RC coupe all come with a petrol engine mated to a small battery and electric motor that’s capable of powering the car alone for short periods. It’s worth noting that all six get slightly different engines and power levels – no two models share the exact same powertrain.
Although, unlike some manufacturers, Lexus isn’t putting a date on phasing out non-plug-in powertrains, it has said new EV, PHEV and hybrid models will be introduced “in line with the needs of each country and region around the world and based on the concept of offering the right products in the right place at the right time”.
It has also declared that it’s aiming for carbon neutrality of the entire lifecycle, from manufacturing of materials, parts and vehicles to logistics, disposal and recycling of older vehicles, by 2050.
“While fulfilling our social mission of realising a carbon-neutral society, we will continue to provide the fun and joy that cars bring, and we will contribute to the happiness and smiles of our customers and everyone involved with Lexus,” says company president Koji Sato.
Lexus has revealed a concept car called LF-Z, a model that it says “incorporates driving performance, styling and technologies for realisation by 2025”.
Built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform, the LF-Z features a four-wheel driving force control system that uses the instant EV responsiveness to offer what the brand called “superior and highly flexible driving performance”.
It has AI systems that learn the driver’s behavioural traits to propose the likes of routes or restaurant reservations.
Lexus claims a range of more than 370 miles from the 90kWh battery, and says the 536hp electric motor will take the LF-Z from 0-62mph in 3.0 seconds.